I was living without a
culture, enveloped in a psuedo-quasi happy existence.
I lived in constant
fear: "What would I do if the other kids found out; would I be
teased, shunned, or classified as a terrorist?" The only people
I ever disclosed my roots to were my closest friends, and even
they couldn't digest what I told them. I couldn't be honest with
anyone. I couldn't even be honest with myself. I decided to
never bring up my culture again, and so, I lived a lie.
Externally, this was an easy task because I never really looked
or played the part. Internally, I faced the overwhelming
struggle of feeling empty. Four years later, I've rediscovered
myself - I am a proud Afghani.
Stories from my
friends about their traditions and celebrations spawned the
initial interest to have culture in my life. But could I
overcome my fear of being ostracized? Two forces in my
conscience began to intertwine: on one side, there was the
importance I gave to what others thought of me, on the other
side, the importance I gave to what I thought of myself. I
slowly realized I had to overcome my fear of others.
The first step to
recovering my culture was joining my school's Multicultural Club.
There, with the help of two great teachers, I embarked on a
journey to find my roots. Multicultural Club was the beginning
of everything - the beginning of eating Palao, watching the
intricate hand movements of Afghani dances, and learning how to
speak the language of my grandparents.
My obstacle was
hiding from my culture because of what others would think of me.
Even to this day, I have friends who choose to ignore where I
come from or who abandon our friendship when I tell them my
origins. So what. I have learned that hiding behind fears and
listening to society was causing me to lose my
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